German knife-making giant Zwilling J.A. Henckels is a well-respected name in Western-style cutlery. With the introduction of Miyabi, their Japanese knife-making brand, the company is set to make an impression on Eastern-style kitchen knives as well.
I’ve had the chance to use several knives from Miyabi, and compare them with other big-name German and Japanese blades. In my experience, most of Miyabi’s lines really stack up well against the competition.
In this article, you’ll learn what to look for when choosing between a variety of Miyabi “series” knives. I’ll share the core questions you should be asking before picking one, and will also explain what I learned from using these knives.
You’ll find that and more in my Miyabi knives review. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Miyabi Knives Review: A Look At Each Series
Each Miyabi’s knife series is constructed using a base of fine Japanese steel that’s made in Seki, Japan. Then, they’re embellished with different blade and handle styles to suit different chefs’ needs.
I’ll walk you through each line to explain how they’re similar, and which aspects of the design, construction, and price vary from one to the next.
Here, I’ve focused my commentary specifically on the chef’s knife from each series. I’ve done this because a chef knife is the most used type of knife in most kitchens. It’s also a great indicator of what you can expect from the rest of the knives in the series.
If you’re most interested in another type of knife, I’ve added a button at the bottom of each following section that will take you to the other knives in the series.
The Miyabi Birchwood series is my favorite of all Miyabi knife lines. The natural birchwood handles are paired with 100-layer Damascus steel blades, making for a perfectly balanced knife with amazing cutting power. At the core of each knife, you’ll find SG2 micro-carbide steel, giving the best combination of lightweight construction and long-term durability. While I wouldn’t buy a full set of these knives, the chef’s knife is outstanding enough to warrant its impressive price.
The Miyabi Kaizen (and Kaizen II) knife lines offer perfectly balanced blades with a traditional thin Japanese profile. They’re the most similar to big-name competitors like Shun and Kamikoto, and feature nearly identical designs. I appreciate the Kaizen series most for Miyabi’s unique ice-hardening finishing process. It creates impressive edge retention and durability that’s hard to find in knives at this price.
The Evolution series is as close as Miyabi knives get to entry-level pricing. And in both their blade style and their pricing, these knives are ideal for intermediate home cooks. The blades are made of razor-sharp and lightweight fine carbide steel, and feature a curved belly that allows for straight or rocking cuts. In my view, the Evolution chef knife is a great buy, but the other knives in this series don’t stack up (price-wise) against similar knives from competing brands.
Exceptionally similar to the Evolution series in almost every regard, the Koh series focuses on a more traditional Japanese knife style. This includes a completely straight, D-shaped handle that’s excellent for cooks who like to grip high, near the blade. That’s complemented by something uncommon at this intermediate price level: Honbazuke finishing. Honbazuke is a specialized process that gives a ridiculously sharp cutting edge, making the Koh series stand out against similarly priced competitors.
The Black series are the most expensive — and impressive — Miyabi knives. The beautiful maple wood handles are paired with the hardest, sharpest steel blades you’re likely to find in any knife that’s not custom-made. That blade is forged and shaped with a lengthy, traditional Damascus process, yielding 132 gorgeous layers of folded steel. If you have the money to splurge on the Black series, you certainly won’t be disappointed.
An excellent mid-range knife series, the Miyabi Artisan knives use top-quality SG2 steel. Where that would usually make for a much more expensive knife, the innovative wood-and-resin handles keep the overall cost down while still delivering gorgeous looks. Chefs who have more experience with German knives will especially appreciate the fuller, thicker handle design.
Miyabi Morimoto Edition
Both the Fusion and Red style knives in the Morimoto Edition series focus on one blade as their most impressive: The rocking santoku. A combination of German and Japanese styles, it’s a versatile knife that’s perfect for at-home use. The Fusion style is made of harder, sharper steel — and therefore a bit more expensive — while the Red edition is softer and more forgiving to beginners.
If you’re intent on getting the absolute best knife for your cooking style, it pays to be well-informed. So in this section, I’d like to take you through the qualities I look at when recommending a knife to friends or family. That will give you a good base to compare Miyabi’s knives to other brands, and decide which is right for you.
Type of Knife
When I’m evaluating a new-to-me knife series, I always look at the chef’s knife first. Why? Because as the go-to kitchen knife for most jobs, the chef’s knife is the best indicator of a series’ quality. Plus, this gives you a clear method of comparing the prices of different brands, and deciding which is better for the money.
The material used for a knife’s blade accounts for the majority of the finished product’s cost. And that’s with good reason: The quality of the blade will make or break the usefulness of the knife.
For the best performance, look for high carbon steel blades. They have the greatest capacity for sharpness and edge retention of any type of steel.
Then, compare the techniques used to forge and finish the blade. Knives like Miyabi go through a multi-step process to ensure consistent quality, sharpness, and durability. If a knife brand doesn’t reveal information about their process, you can safely assume that it’s not up to par.
When you get into the range of $100+ for your kitchen knives, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than full tang construction. This means that a single piece of steel extends from the tip of the blade all the way to the butt of the handle. It’s a gold standard for durability and balance, and a clear sign that a knife has been made to last.
While a knife’s blade gets all the attention, its handle does more to determine whether it’s a good fit specific to you. The best knives use natural hardwood handles, or dense and specialized synthetics that offer more slip resistance. And while I’d like to tell you that I can pick the perfect handle for you, the best way to choose one is still to hold it and see how comfortable it is in your hand.
Care and Maintenance
For many Japanese knives, you’ll need to regularly oil their blades to prevent corrosion. But with a Miyabi knife, you can skip this. Why? Because of the types of steel that Miyabi uses, and the finishing processes that seal their blades.
To cut down on your care and maintenance requirements, look for knives that have a stainless finish. Then, all you’ll need to do is keep them dry, safely stored away when not in use, and sharpened every 6 months to a year.
Take a Miyabi knife and compare it to a competitor using the criteria above, and you’ll find that they’re top-quality knives. But there’s one final piece you’ll need to decide whether they’re right for you: The price.
90% of the time, Japanese knives offered at a similar price point also have nearly identical features — making price the main point of comparison. With that in mind, I’d recommend working out what your ideal budget is for a kitchen knife, and then seeing which company offers the best blade at that price.
Frequently Asked Questions About Miyabi Knives
Before we finish up here, I’d like to take a moment to address the most common questions that come up about Miyabi knives. If you’re a beginner to intermediate cook, this should give more context to Miyabi’s place in the world of fine cutlery.
Why are Japanese Knives Expensive? Are They Worth It?
The high price of Japanese knives comes from three main sources:
- The cost of the specialized steel used for their blades.
- The cost of the material used for the handle.
- The price of the master knife maker’s skills and experience.
In short, Japanese knives are made from the finest materials, and created by expert craftsmen with decades of experience. This makes them expensive, yes. But if you’re looking to invest in your happiness in the kitchen, a Japanese knife will transform everyday tasks into little moments of cutting joy.
What is the Best Japanese Knife Brand?
Instead of asking which is the best Japanese knife brand overall, I’d encourage you to consider which is the best brand for you. That’s because each brand has carved out a specific niche for itself, with details like pricing and handle and blade style as the main differentiators.
Miyabi, for example, specializes in top-end knives made from the highest quality materials available. This also makes them one of the more expensive Japanese knife brands, and a favorite of professional chefs with uncompromising tastes.
Shun, on the other hand, has made many of their knives at a price that’s friendlier to casual cooks by using slightly less high-end materials in their construction.
Are German or Japanese Knives Better?
Both German and Japanese knives have evolved alongside their native cuisines. This means that the best style of knife for you will mostly depend on what you like to cook! If you favor large cuts of red meat in your cooking, a German knife will generally be better. But if you prefer fish, poultry, and vegetables, a Japanese knife will be more your speed.
Which Knives Should I Have In My Kitchen?
Every home kitchen should start with a top-quality chef’s knife. Then, complement the heavy-duty chef knife with a paring knife for more intricate, delicate work. After that, the sky’s the limit — so I’d recommend you check out my guide to the essential kitchen knives for at-home use to choose your next blade.
Each of Miyabi’s knife series has something to offer the discerning chef, whether at home or in professional use. The Evolution and Koh series are offered at a friendlier price for beginner and intermediate home chefs, while the Black and Birchwood series are beautiful (and expensive) pieces of art. In between, the Kaizen and Artisan series blend looks and performance in a mid-range price — ideal as an upgrade for home chefs.